Kim Jong-un has said North Korea is close to testing long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
During his New Year’s message, Kim Jong-un claimed that the intercontinental ballistic missiles were in their “last stage” of development.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests in 2016, including its biggest one to date.
This raised fears that Pyongyang has made significant nuclear advances.
However, it has never successfully test-fired such a missile.
Reuters reported a senior US military official as saying that although Pyongyang appears able to put a miniaturized nuclear warhead on a missile, the missile re-entry technology necessary for longer range strikes is still a serious obstacle to its weapons development.
Kim Jong-un, who took control of the secretive state following his father’s death in 2011, said during a TV addresss: “Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing and ICBM [inter-continental ballistic missile] rocket test launch preparation is in its last stage.”
The north Krean leader said his country was now a “military power of the East that cannot be touched by even the strongest enemy”.
UN resolutions call for an end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests.
When Pyongyang tested its nuclear bomb in September 2016, estimates varied on how strong it was.
The September test triggered widespread condemnation and further international sanctions against North Korea.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has confirmed that he will seek re-election for a third term in 2017.
The announcement was expected after a referendum approved constitutional changes to allow him to run for three further terms and could potentially see him to stay in power until 2034.
Paul Kagame said Rwandans had made clear they wanted him to lead the country after 2017, and he could only accept.
He has dominated Rwandan politics since his rebel army ended the 1994 genocide.
Last month’s referendum result means Paul Kagame can run for a third seven-year term in 2017 and then two further five-year terms.
In his New Year’s address at midnight, Paul Kagame, 58, said Rwanda did not need a president for life, and that someone else would take over sooner rather than later.
“You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept.
“But I don’t think that what we need is an eternal leader,” he said.
Part of the president’s New Year’s message was directed towards his critics abroad.
Paul Kagame was clearly telling them that democracy was at work in Rwanda and that he was only responding to the people’s wishes.
The US and the EU have said Paul Kagame should step down in 2017 to allow a new generation of leaders to emerge.
They also denounced the results of the referendum, saying voters were not given enough time to make informed decisions.
Paul Kagame has received widespread praise for bringing economic development to Rwanda, but critics have also accused him of a heavy-handed rule.
Rights groups accuse the government of stifling the media and political opposition.
Paul Kagame became acting president in 2000 and was then elected in 2003 and 2010. However, he has effectively held power since 1994, when his rebel force entered the capital, Kigali, to end the country’s genocide.
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